Japan promotes tourism recovery through photo contest

Featured - September 13th, 2012

Japan is, arguably, the most photogenic country in the world.

It has natural beauty – think spectacular and iconic landscapes such as Mt. Fuji or the hills surrounding Kyoto, covered in cherry blossom trees. It has man-made charms, from its historic and traditional temple, shrines, buildings and bridges to sparkling towers such as the Sky Tree in Tokyo. Take a stroll around and you will rarely be far from something that will get that shutter flickering.

Be they of girls in Harajuku dressed like comic-book characters, neon lights on the high streets, waterfalls in the mountains, sculptures at the snow festival in Hokkaido or just a simple but delicious dishes of sushi, everyone who takes a trip to Japan will return with memories, and images, they wouldn’t have been able to find anywhere else in the world. Now, those photographs could win you prizes, including flights to Japan (if you aren’t here already) along with some unique experiences that will be awarded at a special ceremony in Tokyo in March 2013.

Want to be the lord of a traditional castle for a day? Take a tour of Kamakura with Miss. Japan? Feast on Two-Michelin-star standard sushi? Go shopping with a ‘Kawaii Ambassador’? All you need to do is think about which category your picture best fits into and upload it to the Share Your Wow! Japan Photo Contest website. Those categories seem to sum up many of our experiences in Japan: ‘Cool!’; ‘Delicious!’; ‘Happy!’; ‘Beautiful!’; ‘Funny!’; ‘Miracle!’.

There is also a main category which all photos come into – ‘Wow!’ – which will form the basis of ‘votes’ on the pictures. This is a truly social competition – the organisers hope that the pictures will inspire people to travel to Japan and show the country’s undiscovered charm and, through discussion and voting through these criteria, winners will be chosen.

It is really easy to put your photo online, just select one of the categories, pop a comment below and you are in! You can choose to link the website to your Facebook account, or even download a smartphone app to make things easier.

Next, get browsing and vote up other people’s pictures by clicking the ‘Wow!’ button on the website and hope they are impressed enough to reciprocate. Japan has been recovering steadily from the disaster that hit the Tohoku region in March 2011 and tourist numbers reached pre-earthquake levels for the first time in June this year.

There is added incentive to visit the north Kanto/Tohoku region (to the north and east of Tokyo, the areas most affected by the earthquake and tsunami.) Steadily recovering, there are many fantastic areas which are safe to visit and many volunteers on the ground doing great work. The best images taken in the region will be awarded special prizes, including local crafts and valuable speciality goods.

Monthly prizes will be given in the run up to the main ceremony, with more crafts on offer as well as new digital cameras and various electrical appliances. Plenty of incentive to get snapping, or adding pictures you have already taken to the fast growing site. Access the Share Your Wow! Japan Photo Contest site which is available in English, Korean and Chinese.

You can submit your images any time between September 2012 and February 15, 2013. The award ceremony will be held in Tokyo on March 15, 2013.